New Year resolutions? Bin them. Forget them. The New Year is certainly not about resolutions for me. I’ve set myself up for failure that way enough times to know they don’t work. Instead I focus on my priorities and intentions for the coming year. What do I want to welcome into my life? What do you want to welcome into your life? It’s not about determination and pushing through. It’s not about drive and will power. It’s about kindness and compassion – towards ourselves.
Rather than rigidly holding to a resolution and then beating myself up when I slip, I hold my intentions more lightly. There’s something much more nurturing, much more compassionate towards myself in that. It’s the difference between what life coach Tara Mohr calls ‘should goals’ and ‘gift goals’, goals that are loving towards ourselves.
So the New Year is the ideal time to bring some compassion into your life and reach out for some support in achieving whatever it is you’d like to welcome in. As you reflect on this, focus on the positive rather than the negative. Reframe it. When I learnt to meditate I was drinking heavily, self-medicating. Meditating with a hangover wasn’t much fun; I realised I didn’t want to. There’s a world of difference between ‘I must stop drinking’ and ‘I’d prefer to meditate without a hangover’.
Put some support in place too, to help you. That could be friends who are on board or it could be something like learning mindfulness, which is all about being kind to ourselves, reducing our suffering. Whilst meditation and mindfulness can help us cut back on the booze, they can help and support us in any priority we have for the New Year; anything that has got a hold on us that is not nurturing or helpful. Do you want a life free from cigarettes? Do you need to let go of sugar? Have you been overworking to run away from a relationship that isn’t working? I certainly know that one and whilst I’ve never been a smoker, I have had to let go of my love of sweet things for vital health reasons. I could never have achieved that without mindfulness. I could never have moved from self-harming to self-caring without the compassion and awareness that come with mindfulness.
Catherine G. Lucas has delivered mindfulness courses to many groups since she qualified in 2007, including National Health therapists and soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, for the Ministry of Defense. She is the author of Coping with a Mental Health Crisis: Seven steps to healing (Sheldon Press; 2015)and In Case of Spiritual Emergency: Moving Successfully through Your Awakening (Findhorn Press; 2011).
Her latest book, Alcohol Recovery: The mindful way is out on 19th January 2017.